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RoadTour Serbia's chapter on Raal followed the development of Aleksandar Radisavljevic's ambitious Eternity omni project. RMAF 2008 witnessed the first public demonstration. Afterwards, Alex called me in Switzerland to report back: "This was my first trade show. We learned a lot. Our room was so lossy in the bass that Bert Doppenberg of BD Design next door heard all of ours and we all of his. We joked about synchronizing the same music. In the upper bass, this gave us way too much output." Having now heard his first pair in 5 different rooms, the performance at RMAF was the worst, he said. He didn't open his room in earnest until Saturday, being busy trying to revoice the crossover with parts Lynn Olson made available.

The problem with Raal's unusual omni is, no prior case evidence exists to predict how such a speaker will integrate with various rooms. Unlike direct radiators, the Eternity is omni-directional from 20Hz to 40kHz. The amplitude response in the ambient field is highly elevated. I suggested to Alex that to successfully integrate his speaker into even smaller spaces might require a deliberate -- and user-adjustable -- tailoring of directional amplitude. If the front-firing drivers played at 100%, perhaps the directly side-firing ones should only play at 20%, especially if very close to a wall. Perhaps the rear-firing ones would work best at 50% and the inward-firing ones at 70%. As a reminder, the Eternity combines 15 ribbons and 6 vertical rows of three midranges each in cylindrical arrays. Below their shared column, five 15" woofers reside in a cast bronze sphere whose sixth opening can be aimed by rotating the entire speaker on its central axis.

In other words, this speakers puts out equal energy in nearly all directions. Direct radiation is overpowered by deliberately strong active reflections. Depending on boundary distances, these reflections either sum at the ear as belonging to the direct sound; or they are recognized as 'echo' or ambiance. A facility to attenuate amplitude per directional path could be a dream feature to create the most pleasing balance of direct and reflected sound in any reasonable room. It could be done resistively in the analog domain.

Armed with a lot more experiential data since our first tasting in Serbia, Alex was very upbeat about his project. "The sound we made after the show back in the Los Angeles basin was truly outstanding. It made me very confident of the true potential. Now I have to tweak the concept to enable that type of sound in more environments. I already have a number of ideas on just how to accomplish that." Alex was also pleased that other rooms in Denver which used Raal-equipped speakers received very positive responses. "N.N. Acoustics was there with their Xenia two-way; Chris Hoff of BPT with the Cyrrus two-way; and Akustik System's Kaiser Kawero loudspeakers with Duelund crossover, Mastersound amplifiers and the Less Loss DAC. Many people singled out the latter exhibit as one of the top performers. Then there's Gabi van der Kley of Crystal Cable who is working hard to finalize her Eclipse while her husband Edwin is working with our ribbons for Siltech and Nelson Pass is experimenting with a pair on a personal project. I visited with Siegfried Linkwitz after the show and he agreed to let me send him a pair. So the word on our ribbons is getting out. Let me tell you, that makes this Serbian very proud."

Work on the smaller Instinct omni has been postponed until the Eternity is fully tweaked. "I'm trying to put a room together for Vegas. If I do that, the Eternity has to sing as well as she did in Los Angeles." Alex also didn't forget about the headphone project. "What still worries me is the proximity of very strong magnets to the brain. I need to investigate this more. Perhaps I need a shield without adding too much weight. I'm also thinking about commissioning Dragan from Solaja Audio for a small dedicated amplifier that would contain the ribbon transformers." In short, Alexander is running a variety of projects while sustaining the growth curve for his OEM ribbon manufacture. "It's not a matter of good ideas. It's a matter of resources. Time and money. The Eternity project has been extremely rewarding but also labor and cost intensive. We're right at the cusp of something big so this is a very crazy time for us."
Raal Ribbon website